Q&A: Amazon executive on Kindle Fire's 'amazing experience'
Amid a crowd of camera-wielding reporters and bloggers crowding around his Kindle Fire, Amazon.com Inc. Kindle Vice President Dave Limp answered a few questions about the new device at the company's launch event Wednesday.
Limp was among a handful of senior Amazon executives, who demonstrated the device and other new Kindles at the event, which featured an on-stage presentation by Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. Other than a few stolen taps and touches, reporters could look but not handle the Kindle Fires.
Here are edited excerpts of the discussion with Limp in the huddle:
QUESTION: With the comparatively low price, will you lose money on the device and make it up on services?
ANSWER: That's not how we look at our business. ... We need to try to make money off both devices and services and do that in a way that's sustainable. That's what we owe to our shareholders and we continue to do it.
Q: Will you have a lower-priced version of the Fire with offers (ads)?
A: Nothing to announce today.
Q: Are there any ports on the device beside the USB for charging?
A: Just the USB. There's also a headphone jack.
Q: Can you load your own files through the USB?
A: Yes, you can connect it to a PC. We don't think people are going to do it very often; we haven't optimized for that use. But if you plug it in to a PC or Mac, folders will show up and you can drag files onto it.
Q: Can you play media purchased elsewhere on the Fire?
A: Sure, I uploaded my entire iTunes library. It's got to be DRM (digital rights management)-free. ... I moved it to the cloud and then it's all visible on the device.
Q: Does it support EPub or other book formats besides Amazon's?
A: We don't support that. We think our book selection and magazine selection are broad. It does support a great new PDF engine. The PDF reader is great - (a) desktop-class PDF reader.
Q: Can you view photos on the device?
A: There is a gallery app that comes with it, but it's not something set up to show (yet).
Q: Is it a multitouch display, and how many fingers does it track?
A: It's a two-finger multitouch.
Q: How will the Fire do head-to-head against the iPad this holiday season?
A: I'm not sure it's a head-to-head device. (At) $500-plus, where other tablets have been, I think people make different decisions than for products that are $199. We'll have to see. At the end of the day, customers will tell us if they love it, and we hope they do.
Q: Will you release other models with bigger screens next year?
A: I'm not going to speculate about what's going to come out next.
Q: Does the browser support plug-ins?
A: Nope, no plug-ins.
Q: Why no camera?
A: We think most people tend to carry around a smartphone of some type with them today. Most of those have great cameras. To get to these price points, that was one of those trade-offs we were willing to make to get to $199.
Q: So communication isn't a primary use - it's more consumption?
A: It comes with mail ... but certainly the primary function - the one we've optimized it for - is media consumption.
Q: Will the browser be available on other platforms?
A: Not right now.
Q: What is battery life like on the Fire?
A: I like to start with the worst-case scenario: If you got on a plane, no Wi-Fi, and you wanted to watch movies straight through. You're going to get up to seven hours (of battery life). If you do more mixed use - reading, movies, those types of things - you'll get up to eight hours.
Q: Will the Fire be used for productivity purposes. Will there be productivity apps? Or just media and entertainment?
A: We have a mail app, and the mail app will treat enclosures as first-class citizens so you can open up Word documents and Excel documents. But front and center, the primary thing is to make sure you organize around your media properties.
Q: Will people eventually decide to use one of these and a desktop computer? Will the Fire fill the role of portable computing?
A: I think a lot of people are going to buy one of each of these devices. They fill very different needs in my life. I watch my movies and read magazines on this (Fire) because it's such an amazing experience.
But then, when I sit down and want to read a novel, I take out my Kindle 3G. At $199 and $79 you can buy two of these and it's still lower cost than other people's first device.
Q: Is there a Hulu app for the device?
A: I haven't talked to Hulu. We have talked to Netflix, Pandora, Facebook and Twitter, and they all seem very enthusiastic to put an app on the device.
Q: Will developers have to revise apps to get them on the Fire?
A: In general, we think the compatibility will be great. That's one of the core reasons we picked Android under the covers.
Q: What are revenue-sharing and in-app purchasing terms for developers?
A: For Fire, over the next few days we will be revising those.
Q: Which version of Android is it, and is it upgradeable?
A: It's a Gingerbread-based Honeycomb variant of 2.3. People will get periodic updates of the software.
(c)2011 The Seattle Times
Distributed by MCT Information Services